The National Grain & Feed Assn. (NGFA) announced Jan. 8 a partnership with essDOCS, a company that enables paperless trade, to implement a project that will digitize barge trading documents, such as bills of lading, so that they may be transmitted electronically – a huge cost savings to the industry, the group said in a statement.
The industry group directing and funding this project includes representatives from NGFA and the following member companies: Bunge North America Inc., Cargill Inc., Archer Daniels Midland Co., CGB Enterprises Inc., CHS Inc., The Gavilon Group, Louis Dreyfus Co., Zen-Noh Grain Corp., American Commercial Barge Line and Ingram Marine Group.
Following a rigorous search process, the group selected essDOCS’s CargoDocs solution to form the backbone of a nationwide digital barge document platform for counterparty trades. The NGFA eBarge solution will digitize the 70,000-100,000 negotiable barge bills of lading that NGFA members handle each year.
NGFA’s more than 1,000 member companies are responsible for merchandising more than 75% of U.S. grains and oilseeds produced annually for domestic and export markets. Their annual domestic barge trades involve cargoes carried by approximately 17,000 barges managed by 15-20 barge lines and traded between 30-40 companies. These shipments flow from 150 origins to around 40 destinations nationally.
The industry-driven solution will be based on a customized version of essDOCS’s CargoDocs DocEx platform, which will digitize the administration of the barge trade. The system will digitally handle the trade string and documentation process to increase speed, efficiency and visibility without altering the way the trades take place.
Charlie Delacruz, NGFA senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, said, “From its inception, this has been an exciting and rewarding project with enormous potential benefit for the industry. NGFA is proud to be a part of this industry-driven project. EssDOCS was selected by the industry group from a field of strong candidates for multiple reasons, including essDOCS’s reputation, experience in the industry and that its proposal stood out as the best fit while being the most cost effective.”
Alexander Goulandris, co-chief executive officer of essDOCS, added, “This type of ambitious, market-wide project is becoming the norm even in logistics and trade, as digitalization is now widely acknowledged as a key factor in the success of companies globally. We are delighted to partner with the NGFA member group and aim to deliver massive digitization of this market in just a few short months.”
Detailed scope work is currently underway, with development, testing and delivery of the NGFA digital barge solution split into two phases and targeted for completion by the end of the first quarter of 2020.